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Amal Clooney Calls for Courage in Vanderbilt Commencement Speech

Amal Clooney started her week as a co-chair of the Met Gala in New York City and ended it as commencement speaker at Vanderbilt University down in Nashville yesterday. The human rights lawyer was tapped to speak to the class of 2018 on their senior day. In footage of her remarks released by the Associated Press, Clooney made a passionate appeal to grads—and really, everyone—to embrace being courageous in these times.

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“Courage, as they say, is contagious,” she started. “People who have had the courage to change their societies—in India, in South Africa, in the United States—inspire each other and create rights for future generations. But when I look at the world today, I see that courage is needed more than ever.”

“At a time when women all over the world face physical abuse, restrictions on their ability to work, own property, travel and even have custody over their children, we need courage. At a time when the LGBT community and every continent struggles for equal rights, freedom from imprisonment and even death, we need courage.”

“At a time when more journalists are in prison around the world than at any time in the last three decades—and even here at home, [where] the media is under attack from the White House—we need courage. And at a time when our politicians try to conflate the terms ‘refugee’ and ‘terrorist’ and make us fear one another, we need courage. We need young people with the courage to say this is our world now and there are going to be some changes.”

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“Be courageous. Challenge orthodoxy. Stand up for what you believe in. When you are in your rocking chair talking to your grandchildren many years from now, be sure you have a good story to tell.”

Clooney also, according to the university which tweeted quotes from her speech, stressed the value of courage over all other traits. “It’s character traits like persistence, ambition, inquisitiveness and grit that will determine your success,” she said. “And perhaps more than anything that will define you is your courage. That is the virtue on which all others depend.”

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